View Full Version : The Tanja Szewczenko Thread

Pages : [1] 2

01-21-2013, 06:27 AM
One of my favorite skaters in the 90s was Tanja Szewczenko. It really was a shame that a combination of injuries, illness and bad luck derailed her career following her World bronze. Was it ever made public which illnesses she struggled with during the 199 season? Certainly none of my business if this was something she chose to keep private.

As with another one of my favorites, Caryn Kadavy, I could never understand how she wasn't able to withdraw from the Olympic Games because of the flu while being heavy favorites for a medal. In Tanja's case, I'm sure there was a bit more hesitation given her previous issues, but surely she could have at least given the SP a try - as Kadavy had done - particularly given how hard she worked to get back.

Her performance at 1998 Wolrds was devastating. After such a strong start to her season, it was so disappointing to see her struggle when she had a legitimate shot at least a silver. It was also frustrating to see her crash into the boards during the SP for at least the 2nd time in her career (the first being 1995 Worlds). A clean SP may have made all the different in getting her on the podium, with the poor skates of the other top contenders.

Has anyone seen any of her performances from the 1999 or 2000 seasons, or know anything about her programs? Wish had she had at least been able to make it to Worlds one last time, or been able to finish a trip to Euros as I believe she had to withdraw in 1999... She must hold the record for the most withdrawals. Was she assigned to any GPs during either of those seasons?

Anyway, just a thread to reminisce and discuss; for having such bad luck, she did seem to pull it together at some big meets- 1993, 1994 and 1996 Worlds, as well as 1994 Olympics and 1998 GPF and Euros, both of which I feel she should have won.

01-21-2013, 06:57 AM
Thanks for starting this thread. I enjoyed the skating of Szewczenko too. We receive German channels here in the Netherlands, some of them used to show German nationals, especially during the Kielman-Szewczenko rivalry in Germany. I remember German nationals in 1999 or 2000 with Szewczenko not skating very well, but I can't remember her placement, but wiki says she was second in 1999 and third in 2000:

She was also in a gala with her then-fiancée Marco Polo playing violin on the ice, the commentator said Polo had composed that music for her. Here is a picture (it's not from the same gala I saw, I watched them in 1999 I think, she had a different look with shorter hair):

Here are pictures of 1999 and 2000 German nationals, there is also a short explanation of her illnesses:

01-21-2013, 07:25 AM
Thank you for the links and information- the photos certainly show a different look. Didn't realize it took until January of 2001 for her to officially retire; the site also mentions that she withdrew from her GP events in 1999- though I'm not sure if that's 1998/1999 or 1999/2000; either way, she was all but gone after Minneapolis.

It seems my favorite skaters always seems to follow parallel paths. As with Kadvy and her similar Olympic experience, another one of my favorites - Nicole Bobek - seemed to experience a similar fate following the 1998 season. Nicole attempted to compete in both the 1999 and 2000 seasons, but failed to get very far because of injury and illness. Luckily for me, Nicole did make it to the 1998/1999 GP and I was at least able to watch her final competitive programs at Lalique (IIRC), including her Mask of Zorro SP, one of my favorite competitive program of Nicole's.

To end my reply on a Tanja-related note, a shame she and Jeschke never followed through with their return to amateur skating as a pair. At the very least, they would have been a stunning couple to watch. :)

01-21-2013, 08:51 AM
One of my favorites too! I still remember that GPF Final, I was in tears watching that skate. She shoulda won gold (so I say of all my favs when they get Silver .. :P).


01-21-2013, 10:04 AM
Love her spunk. Too bad she was very prone to two footing (depsite how huge her jumps were) and almost always ran out of steam near the end. 1997/8 GPF was probably one of the very, very few times she landed the flip.

On the second mark, she was powerful and exciting, but her programs were mostly rather empty and on two feet, like most 6.0 programs were.

01-21-2013, 10:14 AM
She is one of my favorite skaters because she charmed the audience. She jumped like a German valkyrie, but looked the part of a romantic lead.

What was that never ending glandular fever she claimed she had? It sounds sketchy, like a diagnosis made by physicians looking endlessly for an explanation for her swollen glands and chronic fatigue.

I think she probably had debilitating stress and nerves, which are very serious. If your nerves go awry, symptoms of pain, which all skaters have, can become worse. Swollen glands are not unheard of among people who are suffering from anxiety. She seemed very sensitive emotionally, and I think the mind-body connection in her case was a real issue. She had lots of talent and desire to be great, and I think that "rare disease" story was a PR explanation to cover why she had a breakdown. She looked so happy in 1997 at the GPF. I think she had finally had a rare chance to live up to her own expectations. She coped with the pressure she put on herself, I think, in part by getting "sick" so she didn't have to compete.

Even with just one World bronze medal, she will be remembered for a long time because the era she skated in was associated with the commercial boom in skating.

What do you all think of her jump technique?

01-21-2013, 12:38 PM
Awww, thats sooo nice to have an extra thread for Tanja! She was my absolutly favourite skater for years and she´s the reason why I fall inlove with skating!!! I don´t know the English name of her illness but she had two different virus in her body. They made her very week and her heart was in danger. She got her complete blood "washed" or changed or something like this. There was a 30 minute portrait of her in TV in march 1997 that showed her how sick she was. And she really was! It´´s such a pity that she had to finish her competitive skating carreer tha way it happend. At 1999 nationals she skated to "The last mohican" and had 5! falls and only 2 triples. She came in second place with tons of luck... She was very thin by that time and people were speculating if she had an eating disorder. I think she had a foot injury that following season. She came in third place at nationals but I think she deserved the second place that year wich would had qualified her to skate at Europeans and Worlds. But it seemed the jugdes gave her the marks they should have given her the season before... It was a very nice program!!! She´s still in German TV for shows, soaps etc. and I always try to watch everything she´s in beside the soaps... She seems to be happy with her life now. I think her daughter will turn 2 years old in February - time goes by sooo fast! Here´s a link of her and Norman Jeschke:
On the ice:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L2i_OR3Syg (This was just 5 months ago. But she´s also still skating with Norman)
I miss her skating! She´s also always been so nice off ice (at least all the times I met her. Other fans tell other stories so I may have been really lucky that I always had tons of fun with her!)

01-21-2013, 12:39 PM
Add me to the list of people that were moved by Tanja's LP at the '97 GP Series Final. I watch it when I want to be inspired.

01-21-2013, 01:26 PM
I always liked her, too!

01-21-2013, 02:39 PM
Thanks for the links. Yes, she's been through a lot. I even remember seeing a small item on her about her going bankrupt somewhere in the '90s. And another small item, also on German tv, about her going to a rink meanwhile talking about Grinkov who had recently passed away. I used to grab every bit of skating on any channel, even if the skaters weren't talking about skating. Hey, there was no internet, so a figure skating fanatic as I was back then, took anything related to skating. German channels often showed skating tid bits on random tv in those days and skating shows, they even showed Torvill/Dean's skating tour after Lillehamer and Disney skating show with Balki from 'Perfect Strangers'. Thanks to German tv I still had a little more figure skating to watch.

A bit off-topic, but I was a bit annoyed about Eurosport not showing sp of Europeans this week, they will be airing fs though of most events. So I checked German channels, even they have less skating now. :(

I wish and hope that one of the Dutch channels will buy the skating soap series Szewczenko starred in (and didn't Kierkgaard skate in it too?). With silly skating with celebrities stuff figure skating does seem to garner viewers. I'd love to watch that series. There are parts of it on YouTube and it's made me very curious.

What is Szewczenko up to nowadays? Has she ever said anything about coaching? I wonder if her daughter would like to skate too.

01-21-2013, 04:20 PM
i LOVED her and was very glad to see a thread about her.

01-21-2013, 05:26 PM
What is Szewczenko up to nowadays? Has she ever said anything about coaching? I wonder if her daughter would like to skate too.

I think Tanja sees herself as an actress now. But she´ s also still skating at very small invents with Norman Jeschke. I don´t know if she´s in coaching or not but Norman definetly is. And as far as I know she sometimes joins him at the rink. But I don´t know if she´´s also there for coaching. BTW she´s out of that soap where she had the main character and in which Kieregaard also appeared. i think she was in there for two years? They had a show in that soap where also Mikkeline and Norman skated and since than shw and Norman are a couple. I don´t know if he had still a relationship with Mikkeline by the time or if he split with her because of Tanja. I think that Jona (daughter) will be in skating, too. She also had her first experiences in the spotlight as baby in a soap Tanja was by the time. But the soap stopped and I don´t think Tanja has a big role now anywhere. Last week she participated in "Shopping Queen" where the woman have to find a perfect outfit and can win something. I missed it, but here is a picture of the show:
She´s the one in the green dress. I read that Norman and Jona joined her at the shopping.

01-21-2013, 05:56 PM
Didn't she pose for Playboy before Katarina Witt did? She's a pretty woman.

01-21-2013, 08:07 PM
Thanks for the info and the photo, Laney. She looks different again, but it suits her very well. :)

01-21-2013, 10:16 PM
Didn't she pose for Playboy before Katarina Witt did? She's a pretty woman.

Yes, she was in the German playboy twice. The first time in 1999, right after she bombed at nationals and had to quit Europeans. By that time it was also known that she has finacial problems (and an eating dicorder was speculated) and I still think that she just posed because she needed the money. She was critizied a lot about it! (But she was critizied nearly all the time in German press!)The second time was in 2007 I think. It was right after the soap she was starring started. I thought it may had been some marketing for the soap so more people would watch it???